WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority Board of Directors approved a proposal Wednesday to sell the Town of Wrightsville Beach as much as 150 million gallons per year of treated drinking water for five years.
The proposal calls for the town to pay CFPUA’s prevailing bulk water rate, which is currently $3.48 per 1,000 gallons.
If the proposal is approved by Wrightsville Beach leaders, the contract would begin in April 2022.
The town has struggled with water quality for years, and in 2019, struck a deal with CFPUA to provide bulk water at a significantly discounted rate of $0.65 per 1,000 gallons. The typical price is $3.48 per 1,000 gallons.
The agreement is coming to an end in April, and town leaders now have to make a decision if they want to ensure their water supply, but elected leaders are balking at the standard rate and asked the CFPUA Board to consider approving the purchase of water for the significantly discounted rate — just $0.65 cents per 1,000 gallons.
The CFPUA Board met Wednesday to discuss and vote on a new contract, and board members expressed their reasoning behind not approving that discounted rate.
“That special rate that we were providing was just that, a special short term rate and we should not be extending that any further, we made that clear,” Board Member Larry Sneeden said.
It’s not a political decision from CFPUA’s board, rather, a simple business decision.
The utility provider has a fiducial responsibility to its customers — and allowing the town to get a discount when others pay full price is just not fair, board members said.
Sneeden put it in terms that people at Wrightsville Beach will know well, in terms of paid parking rates.
“We could offer them the option, yes we’ll give them that rate if they give us, every Customer of CFPUA an 80% discount on their parking fees, I say that somewhat factiously,” he said. “They would not even consider giving an 80% discount from their normal fees for anybody I think we need to be fair, and we need to stick with the contract terms we had before.”
CFPUA spokesman Vaughn Hagerty said, the vote should not be a surprise to anyone since it was written in the contract.
“That was always meant to be temporary, and that contract also included a number of stipulations of what would occur after the contract, and one of those was that Wrightsville beach would become a bulk water customer and that’s what happened today,” he said.
Wrightsville Beach’s Board of Aldermen will meet on Thursday to vote on whether they want to approve the new deal, but their options are limited since they do need the water to provide to their customers, especially with the busy season almost here.
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